What Makes a Health-e-Recipe a Health-e-Recipe?

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Picture 87During National Public Health Week, we’re taking you behind the scenes at AICR to show you how we craft our empowering, evidence-based messages about cancer prevention, and target them to our different audiences.

It’s not enough to show people the research that eating more plant foods and less meat offers powerful protection from cancer.  Nor it is enough to give them a simple rule of thumb to follow.

That information is important, but information only takes people so far. To help them actually make the kind of vital, life-saving changes AICR recommends, we need to provide them with tools — practical, versatile, easy-to-use tools.

And when it comes to those AICR Recommendations that deal with the foods we choose, the tools in question are recipes. Our recipes distill the wealth of scientific evidence on cancer prevention and transfer it to the dinner plate. They make the science real — and flavorful.

That’s why yesterday, like every Tuesday, the over 50,000 people who’ve subscribed to  AICR’s Health-e-Recipe e-publication will receive a new, healthy, cancer-protective recipe in their inboxes. (You can join their number by signing up to receive our free AICR Health-e-Recipe e-publication every Tuesday.)

Each AICR Health-e-Recipe has been painstakingly crafted by our team of recipe developers and registered dietitians to ensure it meets AICR’s Guidelines for Cancer Prevention (see below). Next, comes the AICR Test Kitchen (technically, the employee lounge) where a tasting panel of staff members provides feedback on flavor, visual appeal, texture and presentation. Ease of preparation is also considered. The conversation can get passionate — all of us love food — and the recipe is tweaked and re-tweaked until it’s right.

Putting The Science On Your Plate

The guiding principle behind every AICR Health-e-Recipe is that it will focus on plant foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes — a meal model we call the New American Plate concept. Red meat, when present at all, will be relegated to a supporting role. No processed meat will be included, but a roughly equal number fish, poultry and vegetarian recipes will be featured.

Our specific recipe guidelines are as follows:

1.   Naturally-occurringl sources of fat are preferred; added fats, when present, will be mostly oils.

2.   Saturated fat levels should not exceed 7% of the recipe’s total calories.

3.   Calories from fat should not exceed 30-35%, although some (with nuts for example) may be higher.  Emphasis is primarily on total fat and sources of fat.

4.   Fiber – Plant-based recipes should aim to provide at least 2-3 grams of fiber per 100 calories.

5.   Added sugar – Most recipes follow the WHO recommendation that no more than 10% of total calories come from added sugar of any type.  Desserts will typically be higher in sugar.

6.   Sodium – No more than 480 mg/serving for side dishes; no more than 600 mg/serving for main dish items.  These are upper limits and ideally most recipes would be closer to the low sodium definition of 140 mg/serving.

7.   Ideally every recipe will have a good source of at least one vitamin, mineral or fiber.

These guidelines are what we keep in mind to ensure that we can stand proudly behind each AICR recipe. They’re why you can be sure that our recipes will help you make the kind of changes that will keep you healthier, longer.


    Author: Glen

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    2 thoughts on “What Makes a Health-e-Recipe a Health-e-Recipe?”

    1. I recently got a part-time job cooking for a disabled person on a low salt diet. I thought that I already cooked low salt but I have learned that I really don’t. Can you give me the links or articles that will help me eliminate or at least reduce the sodium in my recipes? Thank you very much.

      1. Here are a few articles we’ve written about using herbs and cutting salt:
        Herbs Make Food Happy and Healthy
        Cut the Salt, Keep the Flavor
        AICR HealthTalk question on sodium, grains and vegetables

        This is a good place to start. All of our recipes have the sodium amounts listed, so you can choose the ones with lowest amounts. I would also recommend visiting the library or bookstore and looking through low sodium cookbooks to find the types of recipes that your client would like too.

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